Energy export boom underway on Texas Gulf Coast led by Port of Houston

Fuel Fix:
The Houston Ship Channel and the Gulf Coast region are increasingly exporting almost every type of product derived from shale natural gas and oil, energy executives said Wednesday.

Speaking at the two-day Gulf Coast Industry Forum — previously called the Petrochemical Maritime Outlook Conference — in Pasadena, top executives highlighted how the Port of Houston is the only major port in the U.S. to export more than it imports.

The region is shipping out crude oil, liquefied natural gas, ethane, propane, butane, refined fuels, petrochemicals and plastics to power the developing world.

RELATED: U.S. shale gas is shaking up global LNG market

The growth has helped make Houston’s Enterprise Products Partners the world’s largest exporter of propane. The company also exports butane and will ship out ethane when it completes the world’s largest ethane export facility along the Houston Ship Channel. Ethane is the primary feed stock for the booming petrochemical sector; liquefied petroleum gases like propane and butane are used for heating, cooking and transportation.

“I would’ve never thought 10 years ago that Enterprise would be a bigger exporter of LPG than Saudi Arabia,” said Anatol Feygin, senior vice president of strategy for Cheniere Energy.

Enterprise also has exported more crude oil than any other company since Congress lifted the decadeslong ban on exports in December.

“We had a vision five years ago watching the shale revolution that the U.S. was going to be long on hydrocarbons,” said Enterprise Executive Vice President Bill Ordemann, citing relatively stagnant U.S. consumption. “We felt like a vibrant export market was going to be necessary.”

Enterprise, however, doesn’t deal in LNG. That’s where companies like Cheniere and Houston-based Freeport LNG come into play.
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Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan are seen as future markets  for the Texas shale gases.  The export business is one of the reasons that the Texas economy continues to grow despite the downturn in the oil business.  The LNG business will continue to grow as new facilities come on line at Texas ports.

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